Eleuthera and Harbour Island in the Bahamas
The Bahamas Out Island Eleuthera and the small island Harbour Island at the north-east coast of Eleuthera are among the prettiest in the Bahamas and at the north-west coast lies the small islands of Spanish Wells, where most of the people make a living from lobster fishing.
Harbour Island has often been called the prettiest of the Out Island because of its powdery pink-sand beaches, which is usually included in lists of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. A recent survey among readers from the Traveller's World magazine confirms that view as they rated the Harbour Island pink-sand beach in the top ten beaches worldwide.
If you are looking for hotels on Grand Bahama, than visit the Eleuthera/ Harbour Island Hotel website for more information. You can also directly book your hotel stay.
Eleuthera in the Bahamas was founded in 1648 by a British group fleeing religious persecution; the name Eleuthera is taken from the Greek word for freedom. In the late 1800s, Eleuthera dominated the world's pineapple market, and these small, intensely sweet fruits are still grown on tiny farms dotting the island.
You will also find powdery pink and starch white beaches, charming guest houses, and a handful of luxurious resorts, some with the best seafood in the Bahamas. If you're looking for all this and bit more action, take the ferry over to Harbour Island, Eleuthera's chic neighbor.
With its uninterrupted three-mile pink sand beach, world-class dining, and inns, the Harbour Island is a favorite hideaway for jet-setters and celebrities.
Eleuthera has three a three airports: North Eleuthera, Governor's Harbour, near the center of the island; and Rock Sound, in the southern part of the island. Head for the closest to your hotel and if you stay in Spanish Wells or Harbour Island you should choose the airport in North Eleuthera.
Bahamasair has daily service from Nassau to all three airports. There are also several small airlines, Continental Connection is one of them, which fly from Fort Lauderdale or Miami directly to one of the three airports on a daily basis.
Eleuthera and Harbour Island can also be reached by mail boats or by ferry. Bahamas Ferries connects Nassau to Harbour Island, Governor's Harbour, and Spanish Wells daily. The trip to Harbour Island from Nassau takes two hours. The ferry leaves Nassau at around 8am and returns around 4 pm from Harbour Islands. So the ferry ride makes a nice daytrip from Nassau.
Harbour Island with its major settlement Dunmore Town and the three-mile long pink sand beach is for sure one of the prettiest islands in the Bahamas. A visit should not be missed and the traveller with not much time can choose a daytrip from Nassau with Bahamas Ferries.
The frequent parade of the fashionable and famous, and the chic small inns that accommodate them, has earned the island another name: the St. Barths of the Bahamas. But residents have long called it Briland, their faster way of pronouncing Harbour Island.
These inhabitants include families who go back generations to the island's early settlement, as well as a growing number of celebrities, supermodels, and tycoons who feel that Briland is the perfect place.
The best way to get around is to rent a golf cart or bike, or hire a taxi, since climbing the island's hills can be quite strenuous in the midday heat.
Old trees line the narrow streets of Dunmore Town, named after the 18-century royal governor of the Bahamas, Lord Dunmore, who built a summer home here and laid out the village, which served as the first capital of the Bahamas.
It's the only village on Harbour Island, and you can explore all its attractions during a 20 minutes stroll. On Dunmore Street, visit Bahamas' oldest Anglican Church, St. John's, built in 1768, and the distinguished 1848 Wesley Methodist Church.
On Bay Street, Loyalist Cottage, one of the original settlers' homes from 1797 is still standing. There are also many other nice colonial style homes on Bay Street with white picket fences, brightly coloured and lot's of colorful flowers in the garden.
If you stroll to the end of Bay Street and follow the curve to the western edge of the island, you will find the Lone Tree, one of the most photographed icons of Harbour Islands (see main picture on this homepage). This enormous piece of driftwood is said to have washed up on shore after a storm and anchored itself on the shallow sandbar in a picturesque upright position, providing the perfect photo opportunity for many tourists.
Off the eastern Atlantic shore lies a long coral reef, which protects the beach and has excellent snorkeling. You can see multicolor fish and a few old wrecks. There's also great Bonefishing right off Dunmore Town at Girl Bay. You can charter boats for a half day. Ask at the hotel reception for more information.
The island Eleuthera is shaped like a fishhook, 110 miles long and 2 miles wide, with just little more than 11'000 residents. It lies 200 miles southeast of Florida and 60 miles east of Nassau.
Eleuthera is charmingly underdeveloped and is very well known for its secluded beaches, sandy coves, turquoise water, and piney woods with thickets of shady causarina, sea grapes, mahogany and coco plums. The island has gentle hills, unspoiled bush and the gardens are full of colorful flowers.
Eleuthera has some interesting sights which can be best explored by renting a car or a scooter. From North to South is about a three hours drive.
In the northern part of the island is Gregory Town with tiny pastel homes dotted at a hillside that slides down to the sea. At a narrow point of the island a few miles north of Gregory Town, the Glass Window Bridge, a slender concrete structure, links the two sea-battered bluffs that separate the Governor's Harbour and North Eleuthera district. Stop to watch the northeasterly deep-azure Atlantic swirl together under the bridge with the southwesterly turquoise Bahama Sound, producing a brilliant aquamarine froth.
If you are too lulled by the ebb and flow of lapping waves and prefer your shores crashing with dramatic white sprays, a visit to Eleuthera's Grotto and Hot Tubs will revive you. The sun warms these tidal pools making them markedly more temperate soak than the sometimes chilly ocean. On most days, refreshing sprays tumble into the tubs, but on some it can turn dangerous; if the waves are crashing over the top of the cove's centerpiece mesa.
Gregory Town's famous beach Surfer's Beach lies about 2.5 miles south of town. This is the site of the funky shack from the 1960s where surfers still get excited mainly between December through May. The beach is only accessible through a rough and bumpy road. Either you have a jeep or you need to walk the 0.75 miles to the Atlantic side beach.
At the island's northern tip, Preacher's Cave is where the Eleutheran Adventurers (the island's founders) took refuge and held services when their ship wrecked in 1648. Note the original stone altar inside the cave. The last 2 miles of the road to Preacher's Cave is a hilly, rocky, dirt road, but passable if you go slowly. Across from the cave is a long deserted pink-sand beach.
A good snorkeling and diving spot is the Current Cut, a narrow passage between North Eleuthera and Current Island, which is loaded with marine life and provides a roller-coaster ride on the currents.
Devil's Backbone in North Eleuthera offers a tricky reef area with a nearly infinite number of dive sites and a large number of wrecks.
South of Gregory Town lies The Cave, a subterranean, bat-populated tunnel complete with stalagmites and stalactites. An underground path leads to more than a mile to the sea, ending in a lofty cathedral-like tavern. Within its depths, fish swim in total darkness. The adventurous can explore the are by himself with a flashlight but it might be better to inquire for a guide at one of the local stores or the Rainbow Inn.
Governor's Harbour is Eleuthera's largest settlement. But it is still a very small village with a few grocery stores, a handful small restaurants and some lodging options.
If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, you can discover some nice remote beaches. Take the road east of the settlement of James Cistern to reach James Point, a beautiful beach with good snorkeling and waves for surfers. About 4 miles north of James Cistern lies the beautiful sandy little hideaway of Hidden Beach. The beach is sheltered by a rock-formation canopy, affording maximum privacy. It's also a great spot for novice snorkelers.
In the southern part of Eleuthera lies Rock Sound which has a small airport. If walk down Front Street, the main thoroughfare along the seashore, you will come to the pretty, whitewashed St. Luke's Anglican Church, a nice contrast to the deep blue sea and green houses nearby, with their colorful gardens full of flowers.
Ocean Hole, a large inland saltwater lake a mile southeast of Rock Sound, is connected by tunnels to the sea. Steps have been cut into the coral on the shore, so visitors can climb down to the lake's edge. Bring some bread with you and watch the fish emerge for the food, swimming their way in from the sea.
At the very south end is the tiny settlement of Bannerman Town with the old cliff-top lighthouse. The pink-sand beach here is gorgeous, and on a clear day you can see the Bahamas' highest elevation Mt. Alverina (206 feet high) on distant Cat Island. There are also some old fishing village on the way down south which barely touched over the years.
Spanish WellsOff Eleuthera's northern tip lies the small islands of Spanish Wells. The Spaniards used the island as a safe harbor during the 17th century while they transferred their treasures from the new world to the old.
Residents - some live on the island for generations - live on the island's eastern end in clapboard houses that look as if they have been transported from a New England fishing village.
The islanders sail the waters and bring back to shore fish and lobster, which are prepared and boxed for export in a factory at the dock. So lucrative is the trade in lobster, that the 700 inhabitants of Spanish Wells maybe the most prosperous Out Islanders in the Bahamas.
You can reach Spanish Wells by taking a five-minute ferry ride from the Gene's Bay dock at North Eleuthera or via the Bahamas Ferry Service from Nassau.
You can rent a golf cart or a bike and explore the small island and its neat and upscale homes and tiny alcove beaches. Try also some fresh lobster before leaving.
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